I’m assuming you are familiar with the Morgenbesser retort.

So, how should it be rendered in Esperanto?

One stumbling block is that neither Benson nor Wells has an entry for “yeah”.

A variant of the Morgenbesser retort is “Yeah, right.” Now, Vikivortaro does have an entry for “yeah”, and includes there this variant (but with an exclamation point, and all in lower case), but gives the game away with a liberal traslation: “kia blago!” However, if we are to retain the essence of the Morgenbesser retort (two positives = a negative) in Esperanto, we need to give a more literal, as opposed to liberal, translation, and leave it to the sarcasm to shine through on its own.

So, what do you suggest?

“Jes, jes.” - ?

“Certe, certe.” - ?

“Tiel, tiel.” - ?

  • maybe even “Ti, ti.” – allowing “ti” to be a colloquial form of “tiel”, in the same spirit that “’stas” is allowed to be (I’ve seen it in the literature) a colloquial form of “estas”.

The floor is now open for suggestions.

3 Answers 3


My answer: it shouldn't!

Kia blago has the advantage of being direct and not dependent on your listener catching on that your meaning is the opposite of what your words are saying.

If you're looking for something less direct to say, I would start with something obviously nonsensical like "eĉ mia kato ne kredus tion."


I don't think Esperanto has a situation where two positives would be equal to a negative. Also, some languages use a double negative to strengthen the negativity.

  • The Fundamento says explicitly that double negatives don't exist in Esperanto, although it's generally accepted that double negatives cancel each other out. (Mi ne havas nenion = mi ja havas ion.) Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:23

To preserve the joke, you will have to spell it out:

Li replikis sarkasme, "Jes jes..."

The problem here is that sarcasm shades into irony, and irony is not always intended to be picked up on by everyone hearing it. Thus it tends to turn on tone of voice, or facial expression, or subtleties of idiom—and that's going to be a problem in written Esperanto. You may have heard of irony punctuation, proposed as long ago as 1668, using inverted ! or ?, or parentheses like this:

Jes ja (!)

Probably either that or Jes jes (!) is the best you can really do without writing sarkasme. I don't think I would understand ti ti (which looks more like tio tio).

However, I wondered if Zamenhof ever had to translate any similar expression, and found one interesting example in La Batalo de l' Vivo:

"He's—he's—there's a little matter of business that keeps my partner rather late," said Mr. Craggs, looking uneasily about him.

"Oh-h! Business. Don't tell me!" said Mrs. Snitchey.

Here's Zamenhof's version:

"Ho, ho! Negoca afero! Ne volu min tion ĉi kredigi!" diris sinjorino Snitchey.

It's interesting because it also uses reduplication. PIV directly links he! to irony (por esprimi ironian kontraŭdiron is the second definition). Expressions like He ho! and Ho he! and Hum hum! may be used to signify a hesitation in replying (possibly because of disbelief), which in context may be clearly ironic.

  • I would advise English speaking learners that "sarcastically" is translated as ironie. Ironio is defined as Parolfiguro, konsistanta en la esprimado de penso per vortoj malaj - which is exactly what "yeah right" is. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 12:27
  • Well, it is possible to restrict the word "sarcasm" to its older sense, but the result is just that you are left with no single word for sarcasm in the newer sense, so I don't know if it's a good idea. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 13:35
  • If we're talking about Esperanto as it's actually spoken by real people, the common phrase "I was just being sarcastic" is "Mi parolas ironie." Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 14:11
  • My (non-U.S.?) usage is that if somebody has to ask whether it's sarcasm, it isn't sarcasm, it's just irony; secondly, sarkasme is not a rare word in Esperanto, and it cannot safely be replaced with ironie in my example. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 15:55
  • At this point, it's obvious that we see this differently. Readers are advised to check PIV. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 16:49

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